Ballast Point landmarks open to the public on Sept. 29 for Cabrillo festival

The annual Cabrillo Festival is coming at the end of September! The festival celebrates the anniversary of the landing of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in San Diego Harbor. In 2013, the Festival will be held September 28 and 29, with the re-enactment of Cabrillo’s landing at Ballast Point (inside Naval Base Point Loma) to be held on the 29th. There’s a whole free festival celebrating the cultures of Native Americans, Portugal, Spain, and Mexico from 11 am to 4 pm, with the re-enactment at 1 pm. Get more details at

Ballast Point at the Point Loma Naval Base has several California Historical Landmark markers commemorating several historic sites that are now all located within the Navy’s property. Public access to the military base and these historical landmarks is pretty limited – but there is one day a year when this historical landmark plaza is readily available: during the Cabrillo festival.


Plaques for No. 50 (Ballast Point Whaling Station), No. 56 (Cabrillo Landing Site), No. 62 (Fort Rosecrans), and No. 69 (Site of Fort Guijarros) are all located in a semi-circle at the southern end of the naval base, where Fort Rosecrans Boulevard loops back to become Guijarros Road at Ballast Point. Don’t forget that there’s also a historical landmark at the entrance gate to Naval Base Point Loma: No. 61 (Old La Playa) – there’s also a La Playa Trail marker at this spot as well.


PBS to replay ‘California Forever’ – History of CA’s state parks

Just saw this on the California State Parks twitter (@CAStateParks): the documentary, California Forever, which first aired last year on PBS, will be running again next week. Part One is about the history of California’s State Parks and will be on August 28, at 8 PM. For more info, check out the page on, or check out the KPBS (San Diego) schedule.

And yes, I know I haven’t updated much over the summer, but I haven’t forgotten about this blog!

California Historical Landmark No. 55: Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

P1180323 Flat and vertical tombstones facing San Diego Bay by jawajames

In honor of Memorial Day, here’s a look at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, which is California Historical Landmark No. 55. The military cemetery, located on the top of Point Loma, overlooks both the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay. The cemetery, located within the Fort Rosecrans Military Reservation, dates back to the late 1800s, with the re-interment of the casualties from the Battle of San Pasqual. The cemetery contains the graves of over 100,000 military veterans and their family members and covers 77.5 acres. It is split by Cabrillo Memorial Drive into two sections: west, facing the Pacific Ocean, and east, facing San Diego Bay.

California Historical Landmark No. 55

The site was in use as a burial plot before 1847, and became a military cemetery as a burial plot for Fort at Ballast Point in the 1860s (later renamed Fort Rosecrans in 1899), the cemetery’s first major use was for the re-interment of the American casualties from the 1846 Battle of San Pasqual (Mexican-American War). Initially the remains were buried at the battleground site near Escondido, but were later moved to the San Diego Military Reservation by 1874 and then re-buried at Fort Rosecrans in 1882. After the boiler explosion aboard the USS Bennington in San Diego Bay in 1905, the dead sailors were buried at the cemetery (with the Bennington Monument obelisk added in 1908), and for a while, the cemetery was known as Bennington National Cemetery.

Designated a California Historical Landmark on December 6, 1932, the burial grounds were officially designated Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on Oct. 5, 1934, joining the national cemetery system, after the burial rules for national cemeteries were revised and San Francisco National Cemetery, the only existing West Coast national cemetery, was reaching capacity.

The cemetery was expanded over time, with the west side added later on (The aerial photo from 1948 at the bottom of this page only shows the east side in existence, perhaps covering less than a third of the size of the current east section). Eventually columbarium walls were added on both the west and east sections, and currently no new burial plots for caskets are available. Only cremated remains are accepted. Special memorial markers, such as for the Mormon Battalion, the San Pasqual dead, and for various ships in WWII are found throughout the cemetery.

Plaque Text:

    A burial ground before 1847, this graveyard became an Army post cemetery in the 1860s. It is the final resting place for most who fell at San Pasqual in 1846, and for the USS Bennington victims of 1905. It became Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in 1934 and was placed under the Veterans Administration National Cemetery System in 1973. Over 50,000 who served the U.S. honorably in war and peace lie here.

    California Registered Historical Landmark No. 55

    First registered Dec. 6, 1932. Plaque placed by the State Deparment of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Squibob Chapter, E Clampus Vitus. May 28, 1990.

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery is located on Point Loma, west of downtown San Diego. It is located on both sides of Cabrillo Memorial Drive, on the Fort Rosecrans Military Reservation, en route to Cabrillo National Monument. The cemetery is open: Monday thru Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The California Historical Landmark plaque is located immediately on the right side of the main entrance to the west section, just inside the entry gateway. There are three driveway entrances to each side of the cemetery, and the northernmost entrance is the main one for both sides.

View my full set of photos of Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.


California Historical Landmark No. 888: Hayes Mansion

The Hayes Mansion is a massive century-old mansion located in San Jose, California (Santa Clara County), which was home to a prominent local family. I visited the Hayes Mansion on my road trip up to the Bay Area at the end of February, after being lured in by the landmark signs from the highway. This landmark dates back to 1905, and is currently a luxury hotel and conference center.

California Historical Landmark No. 888

The Hayes family was originally from Wisconsin, and moved to San Jose in the late 1880s. Commissioned in 1903 and completed in 1905 to replace an earlier house that had been destroyed by fire in 1899, the mansion was to house Mary Folsom Hayes (now married to San Jose attorney Thomas Chynoweth) and her two sons from her previous marriage, Jay Orley Hayes and Everis Anson Hayes, and their families. The building was designed by George W. Page in the Mission Revival style, and was over 41,000 square feet, and had many fire-safety features, including the placement of the kitchen in a separate building. While Mary died before the house was completed, the house was occupied by the two brothers and their families, and became self-sufficient with their own fruit and vegetable cultivation. The Hayes’ became proprietors of the San Jose Mercury newspaper in 1901 and Everis Hayes served as a member of the US House of Representatives from 1905 to 1919, while Jay was the founder and president of the California Prune and Apricot Grower Association, which later became Sunsweet Growers.

During its heyday when the Hayes family lived at the site, the mansion was a hub of Santa Clara valley society, despite being separate from the main center of San Jose. In addition to the mansion, the Hayes estate once had its own power plant, post office, chapel, railroad station, carriage stop, and dormitory for ranch hands.

The Hayes families sold the mansion in the 1950s, after which it was left vacant and became dilapidated. The City of San Jose purchased the mansion in 1984 and renovated it in the early 1990s and added the conference facilities, and turned the north section of the property into a public park.

Plaque Text:

    Jay Orley and Everis A. Hayes built this Mission Revival style mansion, designed by George W. Page in 1904. The Hayes brothers were early San Jose Mercury publishers, prominent valley politicians, and were actively involved in establishing the Santa Clara Valley fruit industry. The mansion consists of 62 rooms, 11 fireplaces, and was paneled in over a dozen different woods.

    California Historical Landmark No. 888

    Originally registered December 29, 1975. Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the Stella B. Gross Charitable Trust and Mountain Charlie Chapter No. 1850, E Clampus Vitus, April 19, 1986.

The Hayes Mansion is located at:
200 Edenvale Avenue
San Jose, CA 95136

There are a ton of tan landmark signs leading from the area highways to the Hayes Mansion from both US 101 and SR82, and the hotel has a useful map and directions page.

While there is a private plaque detailing the history at the entrance of the mansion building, which describes the history of the Hayes Mansion, the California Historical Landmark plaque is set into the decorative entrance wall, located back on Edenvale Avenue, just north of the driveway entrance. Adjacent to the California Historical Landmark plaque are plaques showing that the mansion is also a San Jose Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.

Check out my flickr album for the Hayes Mansion, where I have 15 photos of the historic building and its assorted landmark plaques.


More California Historical Landmarks around San Diego Bay

This afternoon, I decided to celebrate National Park Week with a visit to Cabrillo National Monument at the end of Point Loma. Since I was downtown to start with, I decided to wrap in a visit to Spanish Landing, along the harbor of San Diego Bay…. and after visiting the Cabrillo Lighthouse, I just kept searching for landmarks in Point Loma and Liberty Station.

In all, I visited these California Historical Landmarks:

  • Spanish Landing – No. 891 – at Spanish Landing Park (across Harbor Drive from the airport)
  • Old Point Loma Lighthouse – No. 51 – at Cabrillo National Monument
  • Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery – No. 55 – at the cemetery that is just north of Cabrillo
  • Old La Playa – No. 61 – at the entrance to the Naval Base Point Loma (along with some La Playa Trail markers)
  • El Desembarcadero – No. 64 – Liberty Station area on Farragut Street
  • USS Recruit – No. 1041 – Liberty Station

I’ll post some photos later this week!

Update: Track my articles & photos with the “Visited So Far” link

I did a little revamp of how this blog is organized – now it is easier to keep track of which landmarks I’ve visited, and if I’ve posted articles and links to photo albums about them. Just use the Visited So Far page at the top to see which landmark locations I’ve documented on this blog!

The San Diego County page will still list all the landmarks in San Diego County, as well as when I visited them, but if you just want to get a handy table of contents of my posts about individual landmarks, then the Visited So Far page is the way to go.

If you notice, I’ve got a lot more photo albums linked right now than I do have full articles written, so you can go to the Visited So Far page to check out photos for places I’ve visited but not written up yet, such as:

See any National Park for free during National Park Week (April 22-26)

Next week is National Park Week, and while most of our National Park Service units are always free, next week, even the fee-access areas are free from April 22 to April 26! I think I may head down to Cabrillo National Monument to enjoy the views, and of course, find any California historical landmarks!

Get more info: